08/31/2015 01:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Career Problem? The Answer You Need Might Be in Your Dreams


Eyes adjusting to the morning light, caught in a tangle of sheets and your heart beating as fast as though you were on a five-mile run. We've all woken up to that feeling when being pulled from a vivid dream, dazed and confused as to what century it is, what's actually going on and where you are. The slight anxiety and panic that overwhelms you amongst all the brain fog until slowly, you take a breath and realize it was all just make believe and nonsense. It was the exact feeling I awoke after a dream that shaped my life path in a way that you wouldn't think.

A year and a half ago I was working at one of those well-established, old-school style ad agencies in the city. Like so many 20-somethings, my life was a series of conference calls, client meetings and supplier parties. As the revelry started to wear off and the stress of the roller coaster ups and downs, wannabe mad men lifestyle started to catch up with me, I started to see the cracks of unease and despair after a particular period with an unsustainable workload. As everyone in advertising does though, I pushed any doubts and anxieties away, continued to work hard play hard and definitely drink the Kool Aid.

It was at this time, passing out in bed after a very very long day and 2 AM finish, I found myself sucked in to a dream that looked a lot like my reality. Weaving through the maze of desks that scatter my agency I looked down at my right hand to see a real eye in the middle of my palm, protected with a glass bottle. Shocked and horrified, I immediately moved to pick up a butter knife to cut it off cleanly along my palm but nothing would get it to work as the panic of this abnormal "thing" attached to me started to overwhelm.

Waking the next day, disturbed, confused and relieved everything was just normal I couldn't shake the feeling of anxiety, panic and dread at seeing an eyeball blinking back at me so clearly on my open palm. I was guided to find out what it could possibly mean and learned it was commonly construed as the sign of the hamsa, often known as the Hand of Fatima. As my dream suggested, the hamsa is the right opened hand with the eye of Horus in the palm. This eye is used to stare back into the evil eye and in all faiths it is a protective sign, it brings its owner happiness, health, luck and good fortune. Alongside this was also the image of the glass bottle from my dream, said to represent bottling ones emotions or true thoughts feelings. Not a believer in dream interpretation? My acceptance of it was originally questionable, after research however prominent psychologist G. William Domhoff, who specializes in dream research, explains it thus:

[Dream] 'meaning' has to do with coherence and with systematic relations to other variables, and in that regard dreams do have meaning. Furthermore, they are very "revealing" of what is on our minds. We have shown that 75 to 100 dreams from a person give us a very good psychological portrait of that individual. Give us 1000 dreams over a couple of decades and we can give you a profile of the person's mind that is almost as individualized and accurate as her or his fingerprints.

So putting two and two together? This was a clear sign that things weren't working in my life, and I was actively trying to ignore and avoid my real thoughts and feelings on a job and lifestyle that I was a slave to. For the first time, my dream was able to cut through the noise and busyness of my head to show me what I was thinking, and thus what I needed to do. While I attempted to struggle on for a little while longer, it was all in the dream that I made the decision I had known I needed to make for a while -- take the leap, and quit. I've never needed to look back, it was the right decision to make.